Blown Away in Norway

Posted on: February 21, 2008


The 300-meter wall in Eidfjord, Norway where Guy Lacelle, Audrey Gariepy, Mathieu Audibert and Chris Alstrin climbed in early February 2008. Left to right: (WI5+, 300m), (WI5+, 250m), (WI5+, 250m), (WI6, 250m) and (WI6+, 240m). Two, perhaps more, of these routes had been climbed previously; the others may be virgin. [Photo] Chris Alstrin

Editor's Note: This posting was updated on March 3, 2008 after locals notified Alpinist that some of the routes documented below had been climbed previously.

Over two weeks in early February some of the world's best ice climbing talent—Guy Lacelle, Audrey Gariepy and Mathieu Audibert—ventured to Norway with filmmakers Chris Alstrin and Alex Lavigne in search of big flows. Even Lacelle, the ice expert who had been to Norway six times prior, was shocked at the quality and quantity of their discoveries. Within two weeks the team of four (Alstrin climbed; Lavigne was filming throughout) climbed six ice lines at least 240 meters in length.

advertisement

Last fall Lacelle's excitement about his upcoming Norway adventure was contagious, compelling Alstrin, Gariepy and Audibert to join. Besides Lacelle, none of them had climbed in Norway before. On January 29 the five met at the airport in Oslo, where Lacelle's friend, Marius Olsen, offered a conditions report and suggestions on the best locales.

The team based the first part of their trip at an ice and mixed crag outside of Gol. From there they took a daytrip to Hemsedal, where Lacelle free soloed the ultra-classic Hydnefossen (WI6, 180m). Alstrin reported funky ice and poor conditions: "Guy was soloing in the worst spindrift conditions imaginable... imagine someone dumping sugar snow on you the entire way up."

Gariepy nearing the top of the WI5+ (300m) in Eidfjord, Norway. Warm weather that day, February 7, caused large sections of ice to collapse above the two teams. [Photo] Chris Alstrin

Rumors of cool weather drove them to Eidfjord. They scouted ice along a windy mountain pass for 10-15 kilometers, stopping at every turn to view the walls with binoculars. "The higher we got in the canyon, the bigger the walls got," Alstrin said, "and the more ice there was on everything." A 300-meter face caught their attention. Over the next three days, working in pairs, they climbed five back-to-back lines on that wall: WI5+, 250m; WI5+, 250m; WI5+, 300m; WI6, 250m; WI6+, 240m. At least two had been climbed previously; the others may be virgin. South facing, the routes provided "some of the best ice—plastic and solid on a giant wall" when the temperatures were cool, but "a little scary on the second day when it warmed up and ice was falling around us from the upper pitches," Alstrin reported.

Another line, more moderate (WI5) and possibly unclimbed, lies just left on an adjacent wall. Lacelle had hoped to solo this climb, but again warm weather struck, so he avoided that wall and they began another scouting mission.

On February 11, Gariepy and Audibert excitedly told Lacelle and Alstrin of a new find in the Hjolmo Valley near Ovre Eidfjord: "It looks like a big version of Hydrophobia," Audibert told them. "But the crux will be the approach." Hydrophobia is a Canadian Rockies classic, big in its own right at V WI5+, 150m. The group decided to try it the next morning.

Gariepy leading WI5+ ground on one of Eidfjord's 300-meter ice gems, Norway. [Photo] Chris Alstrin

"The approach was the worst part," said Alstrin, who reported that the 500 meters of elevation gain took more than three hours due to bouldery terrain covered in sugary snow, streams forcing them to get wet (they anticipated this; each brought a second pair of boots). The four soloed the first two pitches of WI3, then tackled the headwall, 170 meters of vertical ice that housed two pitches of WI5+ and a crux of WI6. Spooked by the warm weather and a waterfall across the ampitheater that was "collapsing pillars all around them." The 300-meter route goes at WI6.

"There's so much ice there," said Alstrin. "Anyone can go there and have a fun time, whether you climb WI3 or WI6. It's all over the place."

Sources: Chris Alstrin, Guy Lacelle, Waterfall Ice (Josephson)

To read more about the trip, Visit the HG blog.

Audibert (left) and Gariepy suffering through a potentially new WI6 (300m), Hjolmo Valley, Norway. In addition to "pillars collapsing around us," Alstrin said, "the waterfall was dripping wet." Here, the team of four is anchored atop the first serious pitch (WI5+). [Photo] Guy Lacelle



Comments
Mortenpost

Vidar Dysthe and myself climbed the two lefternmost lines on the picture in 1999. To my knowledge these ascents were the first in the Upper Måbødalen Valley in the Eidfjord Region in Western Norway. It is true that we didn´t publish these ascents and we tried not to talk about the possibilities here. The reason being pure egoism! I spotted the waterfalls in 1997 during a geology excursion though they have been known in climbing circles for years.

2008-04-01 17:26:34
Schooner

my granma climbed that ice 20 years ago.

2008-03-07 00:43:04
calstrin

Hopefully I can help clear things up here. I am the one who gave Erik the information for the report. Guy had nothing to do with the write-up. I didn't have time to sit down and write a proper trip report so I talked with Erik over the phone.

I made some mistakes in what I told Erik and I apologize for this. It was not my intention to spray about first ascents and put Guy's or anyone else's reputation on the line. I just wanted to show people how much fun we had on this trip. The country, the climbing, the partners it was by far the most fun climbing trip I have been on.

-chris alstrin

2008-02-29 22:07:33
Aksel

Thank you for your response Guy.We met at Salangen last year so i know you are a nice and humble person.Of course your approach to climbing ice in Norway is the right one,but leaving the storytelling to a journalist is dangerous practice.Sensation seems more important to them than getting the facts correct.Of course getting the facts about first ascents in Norway can be hard so he would have been wise to follow your advice about not focusing too much on that part.The slovenians where a bit unlucky as well last year.They did a route on Senja that thay published as a first ascent but it was actually climbed the year before by two strong norwegians(There names can remain a secret).

2008-02-26 13:05:06
EQ

I know the web rapidity can make us cut corners, but I would have thought that Mr. Lambert would have verified his sources with local climbers before publicizing "first ascents", especially after doing the same mistake with the story on Mongrain and Turgeon in Newfoundland. Isn’t verifying sources journalism 101? The again, I can’t point the finger, as I took the story for cash too! Then again, I’m no journalist…

2008-02-26 08:58:06
rockytop

Oops! That's story #2 this winter that claims first-ascents and ends up being incorrect. Clearly, anyone who has met Guy or knows of his accomplishments and love for ice climbing, knows he has nothing to prove. Mr. Lambert needs to face up to it if indeed Guy advised him not to say they were first ascents and he wrote otherwise.

"By the way, no one on the trip is a professional climber." I'm sorry, Guy, but I think most people would disagree with this statement. Perhaps not full-time pros but certainly competing in the comp circuit, appearing in gear advertisements, and climbing all winter, every winter, makes a climber a pro on some level, not just another climber going out on their weekend off.

2008-02-26 07:39:17
Andreas Klarstrøm

Things were not as I thought. Your approch to climbing is probably more humble than most other climbers, myself definitely included. Respekt for that. The attitude and feelings surrounding our adventures is way more important then the ascent itself. Thats why I wrote this comment in the first place. People doing ascents for other reasons should not get the cred they seek.

According to me Norway and all other places belongs to everyone. It's fun that inspiring people from other countries are climbing here and pushing limits.

Hope to see you out there!

(The line to the right of Thermalphobia is sick! It's waiting for a strong climber like you...)

2008-02-25 05:13:43
Guy Lacelle

Andreas, Aksel and other ice climbers in Norway, I have been in Norway seven times now and have many good friends in your beautiful country. I very much understand and appreciate the Norwegian way of keeping climbing and first ascents low key. It makes for a more adventurous experience which is a big plus for me. I usually tell other climbers that you never know in Norway if a climb has been done before. In this case, we didn't even gave names to the climbs. We were told by local climbers that these climbs were probably first ascents. When I was asked, I said that probably some were first ascents and others were not which is most likely the case. My advice to the author (I did not write this article ) was to focus on the quality of the climbing in Norway and not so much whether they were first ascents or not. Sorry the article did not reflect that perspective. We did try to get information on previous ascents from local climbers. By the way, no one on the trip is a professional climber. I personally work most of the year and take the winters off to go ice climbing. Your country is my favorite place to go. Hope to meet you there some day and tell you in person just how much I appreciate the Norwegian climbing philosophy.

Guy Lacelle

2008-02-24 17:16:16
Guy Lacelle

Andreas, Aksel and other ice climbers in Norway, I have been in Norway seven times now and have many good friends in your beautiful country. I very much understand and appreciate the Norwegian way of keeping climbing and first ascents on a low key. It makes for a more adventurous experience, which is a big plus for me. I usually tell other climbers that you never know in Norway if a climb has been done before. In this case, we didn't even give names to the climbs not knowing whether or not they were first ascents. We were told by local climbers that these climbs were probably first ascents. When I was asked, I said that probably some were first ascents and others were not which is most likely the case. My advice to the author (I did not write this article) was to focus on the quality of the climbing in Norway and not so much whether they were first ascents or not. Sorry the article did not reflect that perspective. We did try to get information on previous ascents from local climbers. By the way, no one on the trip is a professional climber. I personally work most of the year and take the winters off to go ice climbing. Your country is my favorite place to go. Hope to meet you there some day and tell you in person how much I appreciate the Norwegian climbing philosophy.

Guy Lacelle

2008-02-24 16:59:17
Aksel

I agree totally with you Andreas.We saw more of this last year.I think the norwegian way of conduct is a little bit confusing to the foreigners,and of course for ice and alpine winter lines there are very few written guides available for norway making things more confusing. The good thing about this is that in norway it is still possible for everyone to go out and expirience an adventure.

2008-02-24 11:38:45
Andreas Klarstrøm

The hardest line on the picture above is already climbed. It's called Belzebub(the devil in norvegian). In march, last year, I climbed it with Rein Leidal. Fun, steep climbing for 200 meters! Last years picture: b.imagehost.org/0144/belzebub.jpg

The line to the left is also done but I don't remember who climbed it.

Many of the first ascents on ice in Norway is not reported. Info about these lines with pictures has however been published in the norvegian climbing magazine. Iceclimbers in Norway know about them.

It's strange that these professional climbers brings a new attitude to Norway. Eager to publish, they claim first ascents without asking around. They are probably good iceclimbers and people but their attitude is not that impressive. If prestige is their goal they won't get it with first ascents of WI5! Atleast not here in Norway.

2008-02-23 10:58:31
Post a Comment

Login with your username and password below.
New User? Here's what to do.



Forgot your username or password?